February at FAUW

Maybe it was the Valentine’s Day candy, or maybe it was the coming long weekend, but we got through the February 13 Board meeting in good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We debriefed the recent Council of Representatives meeting. One topic at that meeting was the importance of Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines and departmental addenda. These documents are the place to look for information about what’s a “normal” workload in your department, how service is evaluated, or what counts as teaching. Right now is a good time to start working on updating those documents if they need it (new versions must be approved by October 15). Talk to your Council member for more information. Here are some suggestions for things to include:
    • An explicitly defined normal teaching load
    • The expected/normal supervision load
    • A statement acknowledging different types of teaching and teaching responsibilities
    • The ability to submit peer reviews of teaching and solicited comments or letters
    • That participation in CTE and other workshops counts toward teaching
    • The ability to use evidence not just from the classroom and qualitative evidence
    • Direction that student surveys should be considered with caution
  1. We noted some confusion among members about how benefits plan decisions are made. The Pension & Benefits Committee decides what’s covered in our health and dental plans, and that committee is made up of members from all the represented employee groups (FAUW, the Staff Association, and CUPE) and the Retirees Association, plus representatives from the University administration and Board of Governors. FAUW has three out of 13 votes on the committee.
  2. We heard updates from our rep on the Copyright Advisory Committee. If you have questions about copyright in your classes or your own work, read this interview with Lauren Byl, Copyright and Licensing Librarian, to find out how to get answers!
  3. We cleared up an issue about travel to Cuba. University Finance sent a memo last July stating that “international financial sanctions prevent the University from making or receiving payment for products or services related, either directly or indirectly” to certain countries including Cuba and Iran. We had serious concerns about how this might limit opportunities for research collaboration and questions about why the University was implementing American sanctions (Canada doesn’t have sanctions against Cuba). 
    We now have confirmation that the University can “reimburse an employee for travel expenses related to countries subject to sanctions, provided that the employee’s travel reimbursement is to a Canadian bank account and assuming that the travel to that particular country has not otherwise been prohibited under University of Waterloo Policy.” If you encounter any difficulties with claims for travel to countries subject to sanctions, let a FAUW Board or staff member so that we can follow up.”
  4. After hearing that definite term lecturers did not receive an email about nominations for University Senate, we reaffirmed, again, that, lecturers are regular faculty (and eligible to sit on Senate). “Regular faculty” almost exactly overlaps with “faculty represented by FAUW.” Here’s the short version: Regular faculty = lecturers and professors hired for at least one year, except research profs and adjuncts.
    • The slightly more complicated version, as defined in Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is that regular faculty means all lecturer and professorial rank faculty with appointments one year or longer, including clinical faculty (e.g. a clinical lecturer or clinical associate professor), but not including any faculty who have some other qualifier in their title to designate a non-regular appointment, such as “research,” “adjunct,” “visiting,” or “special.” (Sessional instructors are not regular faculty; they aren’t defined anywhere, but they all have special or adjunct appointments and are hired on contracts shorter than one year.) We’ll have more on this in a blog post from the Lecturers Committee soon.
  5. As we reported in the fall, the Media Resources office and preview room closed when the person staffing the office retired. The resources are now available through the IST Service Desk located in the Davis Centre Library. We brought concerns about this to the University, and have now heard that things are staying essentially the same. There is a new viewing room available at the DC library. To request new materials, email media.loans@uwaterloo.ca. The Associate Vice President, Academic has promised to keep an eye on this, and we will too. Let us know if the office closure creates problems for you.

What’s on our agenda for 2020

Happy new year! Our big priority for this term is to keep moving forward on policy development and research professor representation. Here are some of the smaller (and not-so-small) things we talked about at the January 16 board meeting:

  1. OCUFA’s court challenge. OCUFA has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—this is the legislation that forces our pay raises to be small for three years.
  2. The FAUW Appreciation Award. We’re starting to consider suggestions for this year’s recipient(s) of the FAUW Appreciation Award, which recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members.
  3. Professional licensing fees. We’re doing an environmental scan about how professional licenses are handled across campus. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of variation in terms of who needs to be licensed, how many people in a unit need to maintain their license, and who pays for it. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, professional programs (e.g. planning, optometry, engineering) typically need a minimum number of faculty members to hold professional licenses in order to maintain the accreditation for their school/department/program.
  4. The switch from Scantron to Akindi. You have at least three options for digital grading solutions, including Akindi, UW’s new go-to “multiple-choice exam processing service.” One of our board members recommends Crowdmark as a way to reduce your workload. We’re exploring the possibility of hosting a lunch & learn on digital grading systems—let us know in the comments if you’d be interested. Learn more and register for Akindi training on the IST website.
Continue reading “What’s on our agenda for 2020”

Ethical Behaviour policy consultation + more from the September 26 Board meeting

A draft of Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) is out for consultation. Since this is the first policy that’s made its way to Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) for approval in a while, let’s review how this will work:

  1. Policy 33 is an “FS” policy, meaning that it affects both faculty and staff working conditions. FRC (that’s the group of FAUW Board members and admin that meets every two weeks to hash out working conditions, fix problems, and approve policies) and the Staff Relations Committee (SRC) jointly strike drafting committees for and then approve FS policies. 
  2. FRC and SRC will send the draft policy out for consultation to other groups. They will review all the feedback and tell the drafting committee what changes to make. 
  3. The updated draft policy then goes back to FRC and SRC for approval. Approval at FRC requires a double majority, which means both FAUW and admin have a veto.
  4. After FRC and SRC approve the policy, it goes on to be approved by the Board of Governors.

In the case of Policy 33, faculty and staff members will get a draft of the policy soon. We encourage you to provide feedback through the soon-to-be-announced process set up by the Secretariat. If necessary, we will also collect anonymous input through our FRC reps and Lori Curtis, AF&T Committee chair.

What else is going on right now?

  1. The Holistic Benefits Review is moving along—you’ll get a survey soon, asking for your input about University employee benefits.
  2. As we reported last time, Finance (incorrectly) used a new Consumer Price Index (CPI) source for indexing the 2018-2019 Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER) amount, which led to each member getting $8.00 less than you should have last year. We’ve worked collegially with Finance to find a solution: reverting back to the previous CPI source moving forward and also making a one-time addition of $8.00 to your 2019-2020 FPER. This was the Board’s preferred solution. Special thanks to the member who investigated this thoroughly and brought it to our attention!
  3. We gave feedback on draft conflict of interest guidelines that FRC is working on. These apply to faculty hiring, performance review, tenure and promotion, and chair search committees. You can expect to see those later this term.
  4. We had a quick debrief about the New Faculty and Family Dinner that we co-hosted with the University on September 20. (The gist: it was great; everyone had fun; we’re looking forward to next year.)
  5. The Lecturers Committee held its first meeting of the year and is working on setting goals for the next few months. Let them know if you have suggestions.
  6. The Board approved FAUW’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2018–19. 

We’ll be talking about the progress made so far by the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT) (see the “Documents” sidebar) at an upcoming Board meeting. If you have input you’d like us to consider, let us know!

Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting

This meeting was a bit of a preview of issues likely to come up at our Fall General Meeting on Tuesday, December 4. What’s a general meeting? Well, to start, it’s a great opportunity for you to speak with the FAUW board about issues that concern you, and for the board to report back to you what we’ve been doing this term. General meetings are also where we vote on association matters like financial statements, budgets, and constitution changes. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s what we discussed at the November 22 meeting, including the lecturer salary working group, holistic benefits review, and breakfast!

Continue reading “Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting”

Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January

The Board is pleased to announce upcoming changes to your benefits. Here’s Alan Macnaughton, Pension and Benefits Committee liaison to the FAUW Board with the details. 

The University Board of Governors has approved dental plan enhancements effective January 1, 2019.

The 2018–21 salary settlement between the University and FAUW provided funds for an approximately 15% increase in the amount the University spends on health and dental plans combined for non-retired faculty members. The negotiations for other employee groups provided for a similar increase. This was a precedent-setting negotiations outcome; we’ve never negotiated an increase in benefits funding before.

Following procedure, the University’s Pension and Benefits Committee was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The settlement provided only that the funds should be directed to areas with “broad participation.” The Committee decided on dental plan enhancements, and on October 30, the Board of Governors ratified this decision. The new rules apply to anyone covered by the dental plan, not just faculty (UW has the same pension and benefits plan for all employees).

What’s changing

The most important component of our dental plan is the coverage of basic costs—preventative treatments such as regular oral examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and periodontal scaling. Presently, the plan reimburses 80% of the cost of these expenses as set out in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) fee guide from two years ago (to a maximum of $2,193 per covered person). With the plan enhancement, coverage will be based on 95% of the ODA’s current fee guide. This is effective for treatments starting in January 2019. Continue reading “Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January”

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25

The start of our October 25 Board meeting was disrupted by a visit from a familiar-looking chicken farmer and their prize chicken.

(Watch the video or read the description on YouTube.)

Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…

FAUW staff dressed as treasurer Dan Brown, president Bryan Tolson, and vice president Shannon Dea.
Is that the FAUW staff team, or executive officers Dan Brown, Bryan Tolson, and Shannon Dea? We can’t tell!*

But hey, there was candy!

Halloween-themed cellophane bags of candy, and chocolate brownies with green gummy bears on top.

The actual meeting

Reports from visitors

After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.

Referendum results

The results of our two referenda came back this week, one on FAUW’s dues structure and another on some relatively minor changes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Both passed, with large majorities of FAUW’s membership in agreement (86% of voters were in favour of the dues change and 94% for the MoA changes). If you missed the votes or want to learn more about them, read more about why our dues structure is changing and the changes to the MoA. Continue reading “News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25”

FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19

—FAUW President Bryan Tolson with an update on what we’re working on right now and what’s coming up this year.

Welcome to a new academic year! I hope you all took some time off this summer. FAUW is gearing up for a new academic year and I want to quickly fill you in on the array of things we are working on—and to highlight two items that are timely for you to consider putting some thought into.

Performance evaluation addenda

First off, we are quickly approaching the deadline (October 15) for each department and school to update its Addendum to their Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines. One quick example of why this might be useful: FAUW thinks this is a reasonable place for departments to specify how teaching tasks are counted and/or what the normal teaching loads are for both tenured/ tenure-track faculty and lecturers in your department.

While you’re at it, make sure to change any reference to “course/teaching evaluations” to read “student course perception surveys” as per the decision of University Senate. Continue reading “FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19”